Thursday, March 23, 2017

The Invisible Man (1933)

Welcome to my first review!  Why did I choose The Invisible Man (1933)?  Well because I had to pick something and this movie is fresh on my mind as I just watched it last night.  Coming from the director, James Whale, that brought you Frankenstein, Bride of Frankenstein, Showboat, and more…   It stars Claude Rains, though other actors, like Una O’Connor, do well in their parts.

A movie like this may not be such a big deal in terms of special effects by modern standards… but if you judge this movie rightfully on its 1933 standards, it’s definitely a technical achievement!  James Whale did his best to make me really feel like there was an invisible man doing things on screen.  I’d sure like to know more details about how they created the special effects for this film!  They say on wikipedia that “When the Invisible Man had no clothes on, the effect was achieved through the use of wires, but when he had some of his clothes on or was taking his clothes off, the effect was achieved by shooting Claude Rains in a completely black velvet suit against a black velvet background and then combining this shot with another shot of the location the scene took place in using a matte process.”  This at least somewhat clarifies how some of the effects were achieved.

Some may say that the film’s success was heavily reliant on these special effects, but let’s not forget that we get a good performance out of Claude Rains, whether we can see him or not!  Claude Rains plays Jack Griffin, a scientist who himself discovered how to become invisible yet hasn’t figured out how to un-do it.  A side effect of the process that made him invisible also made him lose his mind.  So we are treated to a shouting, often violent character who throughout the film not only murders a cop but causes an entire train to derail and crash, as he believes he is on a path to having power.  Not to spoil the plot, but there are ways to catch an invisible man.  For instance, if it’s cold out we would see his breathing.

This film was put out by Universal Pictures in 1933, and was Universals most popular Horror film since Frankenstein, another James Whale movie as mentioned before.  It didn’t win any Oscars but other groups both then and in recent times have awarded this movie various awards and/or top lists.  Overall, it’s not one of my favorites but I consider it an overall solid film and would give it 3 out of 4 stars.  If you like sci-fi and/or classic movies, and haven’t seen this yet, do yourself a favor and seek it out!  It just recently played on TCM so I’m not sure when they’ll air it next, but I’m sure you’ll find a way if you try!

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